DP William Ruto: ‘I am not a land grabber’

Deputy President William Ruto gestures during an interview with Kenyan journalists in New York yesterday. [PHOTO: DPPS]

NEW YORK: Deputy President William Ruto has defended himself against claims of corruption and land grabbing.

The DP attributed his property and business empire to hard work. Asked how he was dealing with the perception that he is corrupt, the DP said he acquired his wealth through hard work, reiterating that people should not be judged based on their background in society.

In an interview with Kenyan journalists in New York, USA, on the sidelines of a United Nations meeting, Ruto noted that society was “very cruel, especially to those who rise to the top from humble beginnings”.

Although he did not discuss any specific allegations levelled against him, Ruto, who has styled himself as a ‘hustler’ (one who has had to struggle to make it) said he was “very proud” of who he had become today.

“I have got here by sheer hard work. I have not been appointed to any position since I left school. Every position I got, I competitively got it. I have worked hard for it and I have not gotten a lift from anybody,” Ruto said in response to questions about his wealth.

“I am very proud of my record. I understand that many people have a problem with the son of a peasant getting this far because normally it does not happen. But we have to wake up to a new reality that this is a Kenya where every child, irrespective of their background, where they come from, data of their parents - whether they are poor or where they come from - has a chance,” said the DP.


Ruto, who has even had a public spat with former Lugari MP Cyrus Jirongo — with whom he worked in the defunct YK 92 Kanu youth lobby group — about the speed with which he amassed wealth, responded that he was not at all moved by the claims.

He said Jirongo should know he knew how “kujipanga” (how to organise oneself).

Ruto blamed the negative image on unnamed persons who he said were envious of his quick rise and were attempting to take him down.

“I understand some people have a problem with how far I have come. I have seen people complaining how did William Ruto get here?

“So I understand perfectly the people who believe that the only way to get anywhere is to through shortcuts. We must all have an equal chance. It cuts both ways,” he added.

The DP recalled that in 2012, when he decided to support Uhuru Kenyatta for the presidency, many people criticised him.

“Why do you support the son of a former president? You mean there are no other people except him?” Ruto recalled his critics protesting.

But he explained that he did not view the partnership through the same lens that others were using.

“My position is that you cannot penalise Uhuru Kenyatta merely because his father was president. We should look at him as Uhuru Kenyatta. Is he capable? Does he have what it takes? Similarly, we should look at William Ruto and not judge him because his father was a poor man? That’s unfair,” Ruto said last Thursday night.

“We should be even. This is really my position,” said the DP who has had to fight perceptions that he is a beneficiary of ill-gotten wealth.

The DP further said the formation of Jubilee Party had been in the pipeline even before the 2013 general election.

Ruto explained that the merger of 12 parties into Jubilee Party was intended to avert the acrimony associated with coalition governments.

“After 10 years of Kenyans suffering the brunt of politics of division occasioned by running a coalition government, we faced the big problem of ‘we were shortchanged in the memorandum of understandings,” he said.

“After learning from the major challenges that have faced coalition parties dating back to between 2002 and 2008, it’s time to bring Kenyans together under one government,” he added. “From 2003 for five years, we witnessed the challenges. Then again in 2008, with the grand coalition government - same music: ‘we have been shortchanged’.”

“With nusu (half) this, nusu that, it didn’t work well for the other governments and for the first time, President Uhuru Kenyatta and myself have decided to do something different. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results,” he said.

“From 2013, we had a partnership government,” Ruto said in reference to the Jubilee Coalition between his United Republican Party and Uhuru’s The National Alliance, alongside 10 constituent parties. The 12 parties have since folded to form Jubilee Party.

He stressed the importance of rallying Kenyans to identify political parties with a national outlook.

“This is what Jubilee stands for. We want to bring to Kenyans something new,” he said, although he denied being the architect.

Ruto also refuted claims that Kenya did not co-operate with the International Criminal Court (ICC), leading to the collapse of cases against him and Uhuru.

He said the state furnished the court with all necessary documentation to help the case, including intelligence reports that ordinarily no country would share.

The DP was reacting to recent reports that The Hague-based court had referred the Kenyan government to the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) for non-cooperation.

“I think Kenya is an example of co-operation between ICC and any country anywhere in the world. We have made and we did make every information available; sometimes it was even taken to the extreme where intelligence information that would ordinarily not be made available by any country was made available,” disclosed the DP.

“Every official, including at the very highest level, co-operated with the court. We will respond to whatever allegations are made as a country with the facts that we have.”

Ruto said the state had nothing to hide and would assist the court.